1. Vlade Jovanovic, Partizan
Who He’s Losing: Nikola Pekovic (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Less than a week before season’s tip, Maccabi Electra put Milan Macvan in a box, wrapped that box in yellow and blue and shipped it off to Belgrade (on loan) with a black and white bow. Partizan tore up the wrapping paper and inserted Double M into their starting rotation. Instantly, the Boys in Black had the most talented PF-C combo a reasonable fan could ask for.
With Acie Law playing increasingly well (Don’t laugh. OK, laugh.), the rest of Partizan’s pieces filling themselves into place around the big dogs and the best home atmosphere in Europe, another Final Four was seemingly within reach, their last coming in 2010 in Paris.
Macvan is on his way to an All-Euroleague season and should pick up the Rising Star Award with relative ease barring injury or a serious collapse, but that’s not enough to elevate Partizan to the upper echelon.
No Pekovic, no Final Four in Istanbul. Period.